Monday, January 5, 2009

Road Trip! The Commons

Ok, it wasn't really a road trip. More of a sidewalk trip. The Commons is a portion of Ithaca's State Street that was cemented over in the 1970's to make a pedestrian mall, in theory, to increase traffic to hip, local small businesses. It is a short, four-block stroll from Felicia's Atomic Lounge.

In its heyday, The Commons was THE place to hang out on a sunny day. You could get a half-moon cookie or cafeteria-style lunch from Home Dairy, peruse quirky handmade stuff at People's Pottery, buy a pair of cowgirl boots at Leather Express, and purchase a new houseplant to kill from The Plantations. Now it seems to be mostly depressingly empty storefronts, with just a few cool businesses left like Volume Records, Taste of Thai and Autumn Leaves Bookstore. The city of Ithaca wants to pay a consultant $250,000 to come up with a new design for The Commons next year. This doesn't include any construction. Why spend a quarter of a million dollars to come up with ideas to redesign a pedestrian mall filled with empty store fronts? They should lower the rent or forget about it. I'll take my $250K in small bills, please.

Back to the food. Brotchen is one of the current gems on The Commons that is worth checking out. Brotchen is a German-Austrian bakery/specialty shop that opened a little over a year ago. I can't say the name. Don't ask me to. If you are looking to get fat, this place is for you. The glass cases are filled with beautifully crafted desserts (I recommend the apple strudel), and you can get a cappuccino or tea to accompany your sweet treat. If you want to grab-and-go, there are a bunch of pre-made sandwiches with meaty German-looking meat and hearty cheeses.

Above you will see the make-me-drool photo of their kickass chili, which was a generous enough portion that I got to eat it for lunch the next day, too. Brotchen, will we see you at the Ithaca Chili Fest this February? Leah got a big bowl of cheesy-something soup. Ok, I can't remember all the details, so you should just go try it for yourself. Brotchen is the perfect lunch spot, and one of those places that makes you feel like you are out-of-town, maybe even in Europe.

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